The Process of Watercolor Batik
Discover the beauty and possibilities of batik art. Artist Donna J. Dubsky takes us through the watercolor batik process from beginning to end and shares her insights and tips for artists who want to experiment with making beautiful watercolor paintings on rice paper. Enjoy!
My Rice Paper Watercolor Batik Art Process…
Is done in the traditional ‘ancient oriental batik’ method except I use fairly heavy ‘Hosho’ rice paper (instead of the traditional cotton or silk cloth) and tube watercolor paints (instead of dyes).
The Chinese have been doing batiks for centuries and creating batik art means committing to quite a lengthy process. Years ago I fell in love with the batik process because when you ironed out all the wax in the end it was always full of surprises.
But I found that through the years the dyes on the fabrics would fade, and it is quite a messy technique, so I gave it up for a time. Then in 2002 I read an article by Kathie George in the 2002 Artists Magazine on using rice paper with watercolor. I tried it and fell in love again with the process – this time knowing that with watercolor the batik wouldn’t fade.
Step by Step to Batik Art
1) I start with a pencil drawing on paper and make all my corrections and adjustments on it until I have the composition exactly how I want it.
2) Using a ‘light box’ (or a window) I transfer the drawing onto rice paper. I usually use a white sheet of fairly heavy Hosho rice paper.
3) I then lay the pencil drawing under the rice paper and draw the design in ink. That
way I can have exact, confident (and permanent) ink lines on the rice paper. I’ve found
that an ordinary Sharpie fine line pen works best, but test your pen first to see what works for you!
4) Wax what you want to stay white. The wax should be approximately 200-225
degrees Fahrenheit. I use an old fry pan or crock pot with temperature control.
5) Paint your lightest color (using fresh paint) first. Then let it dry thoroughly. Then wax what you want to stay that lightest color.
6) Paint your next darkest color. Let it dry. Wax it. Work this way, from light to dark, alternating between paint, drying and waxing, until your painting is completely finished.
7) Then, brace yourself, you crumple the painting into a ball. This is the way you make cracks in the wax.
8) Uncrumple the painting and put a final coat of dark watercolor on the front and back of the painting.
9) This time while the painting is still wet from that last coat of dark watercolor, put a final coat of wax on the front and back surfaces.
10) Lastly, you iron out all the wax. First, protect the painting by sandwiching it between layers of clean, plain newsprint. On top of the clean newsprint you can layer on several sheets of regular newspaper, changing them frequently as they soak up the wax until all of the wax is ironed out. Your batik painting is complete.
11) Mount the painting onto acid free foam core or 300 lb. watercolor paper with acid free glue, matte and frame. Batik mounting paper is also available.
Meet the Artist
Donna J. Dubsky truly loves to create—in watercolor, rice paper batik, graphite, pen/ink, alcohol ink, pastel (pencil & stick), acrylic, plasma cut, collage, and even photography!
An artist of many years, Donna loves experimenting with subject matter as well, varying her style from realistic to abstract—working with live models and creating still lifes are among her favorites though. Recently she has gravitated toward mixed media and abstract art.
Donna was born and raised in Columbus, NE. She has been a member of the Columbus Area Artists and the Association of Nebraska Art Clubs (ANAC) since the early 1970s, serving in many offices for both local and state art organizations. Donna has studied with many regional and nationally recognized artists.
She teaches youth drawing classes in her home and has also taught adult educational classes as well. Donna has won numerous awards in the Columbus Area Artists, ANAC (including an ANAC Traveling Exhibit Award), and the Ernestine Quick Memorial Competitions.